The American likely to push for NCAA subdivision inclusion

The American Athletic Conference will likely push for inclusion if the power conferences break into a subdivision or so-called "Division 4," commissioner Mike Aresco told

Aresco said he will expound on this topic at the conference’s media days in Newport, R.I., early next week, and he wants to know the parameters of a subdivision before discussing further with his presidents.

But on the surface, Aresco believes the American would fit certain criteria such as market size and long-term viability on the field.

"We want to compete at the highest level," Aresco said.

Once a BCS automatic qualifier as the Big East, the American was ravaged by conference realignment and now sits well below the power five conferences in revenue – a difference of more than $100 million per school over the next seven years.

National sentiment is growing for high-resource schools -- namely, those from the Pac-12, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, the ACC and Notre Dame -- to have flexibility to spend their money in certain ways.

Paying a player stipend is one, along with increased meals for players or paying expenses for a recruit's parents on official visits. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany at Wednesday’s Big Ten Media Day highlighted the need to revisit the 20-hour-a-week time demand on players and a greater commitment to educational trust as part of the restructuring.

Passing meaningful legislature is currently difficult, Bowlsby said, because the entire Division I body of more than 340 schools plays a part in the governance process.

Though nothing is imminent, Delany expects a structural change within the next year. The issue is complex and could take several turns in the next 12 months. NCAA president Mark Emmert was open about the possibility when addressing Big 12 presidents and athletic directors during the conference’s spring meetings in late May. 

If a separate governance agreement could be subject to anti-trust lawsuits, perhaps the subdivision will include a membership threshold that any school can meet assuming they are willing to spend the necessary money for inclusion. In that case, the American, the Mountain West and others might have a chance to join, and the big schools still get what they want – the ability to spend their money as they choose.

But the power conferences could up the ante until the smaller conferences can’t afford it.

What was telling from Delany’s press conference: he referred to "among the five of us [commissioners]" when discussing a subdivision. Not six, but five.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories